This morning I caught a few moments to read a blog entry entitled “Nine Heartfelt Things Pastors Would Like to Say to Their Church Members” written by Thom S. Rainer. I am not a pastor but I am married to one and I found myself nodding along as I read.
The thoughts I read there inspired a few of my own. So here are my own “Hard Truths from a Pastor’s Wife”. These are not specifically aimed at any one congregation hubby has pastored and some of them are inspired by the lives of other pastors wives I know, not my own experience. **Disclaimer – I have NOTHING against women clergy. I am blessed to have several of them as friends. In my home, hubby is the pastor and I am the spouse so this is the perspective I know and can write knowledgeably from.**
1. I chose this church for VERY different reasons than you did. I’ve known of pastor’s wives who did not attend the church where their hubby served. Those pastor’s never stayed for long. I choose to honor my husband’s work in this particular congregation. In other words, I chose him, not the church. There have been some places that hubby served that were absolutely the kind of church I would have chosen to make myself a part of. Others? Not so much. Just to be safe, don’t ask me why I’m attending. You might not like my answer.
2. I have gifts and I want to serve but not necessarily where you tell me I should or where your last Pastor’s wife did. The Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of pushing me in the right direction so let’s just leave the job to him, okay?
3. My kids and I do not want to be treated like employees. My husband is on the payroll. My kids and I are not. Please do not expect any more from me or them than you would from any other person in the church in our particular age group.
4. Be careful of criticism. My son was once scolded for slouching in church. My daughters and I have all been scolded for not dressing for the weather when we dressed in outfits more “summery” than the critic would have chosen. Mind you, the church in question is kept at a temperature that our “more mature” congregation prefers which usually means I’m in danger of overheating if I dress for the weather. The point is this – if all my children or I ever hear from you is criticism, it makes it harder and harder to willingly put ourselves in “that building” with “those people” week after week. No one wants to live with constant criticism.
5. Pastor’s wives need friends too. As a pastor’s daughter and now a pastor’s wife, I have seen more and more women in that role who have been soundly criticized for “playing favorites” because they had a close friend in the church. Everyone needs one close confidante. Someone around whom you can just be “you”, flaws and all. But so many pastor’s wives are loathe to find that woman in their own congregation because of the fear that others will feel snubbed.
6. He’s your pastor, but he’s the love of my life. Please don’t be offended if you see us out on the town and he chooses me rather than a lengthy conversation with you. He is trying to find a balance between being a loving pastor and a loving husband and sometimes that means I come first.
7. If you are talking to me and speak critically of his work as pastor, I will choose to back him every time. I think that one pretty much speaks for itself.
8. My family and I really don’t have a pastor. The man you go to for counseling, the man you can talk to about marital woes, the man your kids can call on for some insight and prayer . . . he’s just “dad” or “hubby” in my house. We cannot go to him for leadership and guidance the way you do because we have another relationship that takes precedence (and in our case, predates his role as pastor!). Hopefully we find another Godly counselor outside the church to fill that need!
9. I don’t always know where he is or what his schedule is. I am his wife not his mother. He is almost always in the building before me when there is a weekly service or event so asking me “Where is your husband?” the minute I walk in the door isn’t going to be productive. I try to keep track of what’s going on with his schedule for family schedule purposes, but that’s about it!
10. I truly do want to be a part of the church and use my gifts as the Holy Spirit leads. I am just a woman trying to function in her God-given identity and could use lots of prayer support as I seek to follow the Spirit’s leading. I may or may not do exactly you think a “good” pastor’s wife should do. You may or may not do exactly what I think a “good” church member should do. How about we both cover the other in prayer and believe that God is working in the other even though we may not see or understand exactly how?! Can that be a thing?!